Back to Chapter Two
Sam was even quieter on the drive back from the clinic than he had been on the way there. He didn’t say a word as he traipsed inside the library and made his way to the crystal decanter of 70 year old whisky they kept on the sideboard.
Dean watched in silence as Sam poured himself a generous measure and raised the glass for a long sip. He nestled the glass against his chest and met Dean’s gaze steadily.
“Okay. You get this one chance. Ask me now ‘cause I don’t want to ever talk about this again.”
Dean didn’t have to think about his first question, it had been burning and eating away at his insides ever since Sam had said no to the doctor’s question. “Was it mine?”
“Yes,” said Sam.
Dean sucked in a breath and fell down into a chair. He felt like he’d been sucker-punched. Slowly he looked up. Sam was sipping his drink, staring past Dean, across the bunker.
“Sammy,” Dean said quietly. "Why didn't you say anything?"
Slowly Sam turned his attention back to Dean. He shrugged. "When was I supposed to say something? After Jess died? While we were looking for Dad? It was nearly four years. It wasn't really on my mind at the time."
"But before then! When it happened! Sam, Jesus, man, it's been years. All this time and you never said anything. It’s just another fucking secret.”
“You got no right to lecture me about secrets, Dean.”
Dean pressed his lips together. Sam was right. But still… thirteen years. No, more than that. Fourteen years.
“Fourteen fucking years and you never said. What about – about when it happened? Why didn’t you call me? You must’ve known that I’d come. I’d never let you go through something like that on your own.”
“It was already too late,” Sam said.
“Jesus, Sam…” The heavy stone in his chest felt like it was dragging him down and down, churning his stomach, making his throat ache. With a huge effort, he forced himself to look at his brother’s face.
Sam was watching him, and he looked devastated. They stared at each other in silence, Sam’s grip white-knuckled around his glass. Dean watched his brother swallow, watched him take another sip of his drink, dropping his gaze to stare into the whiskey. When he looked up again, his expression was shuttered, that resigned, stony façade back in place.
“Don’t make it all about you, Dean, because it isn’t. It happened a long time ago. I forgot about it until she asked. Until…” he put one hand on his belly in a thoughtless, instinctive gesture, then flinched when he realized where he was touching himself and yanked his hand away, mouth twitching.
Fourteen years, Dean thought. If the kid had lived, he’d be thirteen now. The same age Ben was when he lived with him and Lisa. A thirteen year old kid that was his and Sam’s, with a double dose of Winchester genes. He’d be a tough little bastard and that’s for sure.
“So what happened?”
Sam turned his attention back to him and shrugged slowly. “It must’ve happened... I must’ve conceived just before I left. I was sick, do you remember? I was on medication and I was distracted by everything that was going on, I probably missed a couple of pills. I was at Stanford about six weeks when it happened. I remember working a shift and feeling terrible the whole time. I thought it was appendicitis. Just like before, like when I was diagnosed. You remember?” He broke off and Dean nodded. Yeah, he remembered. “Yeah, so I called a cab and went to the hospital. That’s when they told me that it wasn’t appendicitis.” He shook his head, laughing hollowly. “I had no goddamn idea I was even pregnant.”
"You could've called me then," Dean said.
"I wanted to. But it all happened so fast. They took me into surgery immediately to – to remove it. And when I came around, I hurt so much. I wanted to call you then, but I kept thinking that you'd be on a hunt and Dad would find out and it was a whole bunch of crap that I didn't need. I was worried about missing classes and losing my job and I just wanted to get back to my life. To tell the truth, I was just so freaking relieved that it was over and that I’d gotten away with it. And then I knew that I couldn’t tell you because you would react differently. You'd be..." he hesitated as if he was searching for the right word, "…devastated and you’d mourn it like it was something real. And you'd never understand why I didn't feel the same way."
He watched Sam drain the rest of his glass. Sam turned his back and placed the glass on the sideboard, fingers lingering around the rim. Dean stared at his broad shoulders, at the tight line of muscle and his bowed head. He should say something, he knew that, offer Sam some crumb of comfort, but Sam was right. He was only hearing about this now, fourteen years after the fact, and he was regretting it, wishing that Sam had called him, that he'd tried harder to stop Sam going in the first place, that he'd even had some fucking inkling that his brother was knocked up with his kid when he walked out on them.
He watched Sam walk out of the room and didn’t say anything.
Four hours had passed since Sam dropped his bombshell.
As I was going over, the Cork and Kerry mountains
I met with Captain Farrell and his money he was counting..."
Dean lay on his bed, headphones on, music loud. His eyes were squeezed shut and he was listening intently to the lyrics, concentrating on the sad fate of Captain Farrell, poor Molly and the trigger-happy narrator. He wasn't thinking about anything else, not at all.
I first produced my pistol, and then produced my rapier
I said stand or deliver, or the devil he may take ya...
Sammy had a miscarriage. Sam was pregnant with his baby and he lost it.
Sam was pregnant right now and he was still going to get rid of it. It was a second chance and they weren’t going to take it. He would never be a father, which was good because he would be a lousy parent. Look at the fuck-up with Ben. He’d had to erase himself from the kid’s memory to keep him safe. And worse than that, look at Sam, look at the sorrow and grief and fucking misery he’d brought down on Sammy over the years.
He jumped as someone jogged his foot, his name spoken loud enough to be heard over the music. He snapped his eyes open. Sam was standing by his bed, looking ridiculously tall as he loomed over him.
He pulled off the headphones. "What?"
"They called back with a date."
He didn't need to ask what for. He kept looking at his brother.
"It's Thursday," Sam said. "Early, first thing. We have to be there by eight.”
"Thursday. That seems soon."
"I guess." Sam looked around the room, like he was trying to made his mind up about something, and Dean waited for it, body tense as he waited for Sam to speak. Sam shrugged, stiff and awkward, and rested his gaze on the guns above Dean's headboard. "So yeah. Thursday," he said.
"I'll come with you," Dean said. It probably didn't need saying because of course he would, he'd never let Sam go through something like that alone. Then again, things had drifted so badly between them he couldn't take anything for granted.
"Okay," Sam said. He was still standing there, and Dean's gaze was drawn to his hands, to his fingers flexing involuntarily and nervously by his side. Eventually he pushed out a breath, and to Dean's surprise, sank down to sit on the edge of Dean's bed.
Dean shuffled to make room for him, shocked that he was still there. "You okay?" he asked.
Sam made a scoffing sound and turned his head to look at Dean. His expression was ironic, maybe even self-deprecating. "No. You?"
"Pretty far from okay, man," Dean said.
Sam nodded and blinked. "I'm sorry... for not telling you before, about..." he jerked his shoulders up and down in an awkward shrug. "You know."
"Okay," Dean said.
He still didn't get it. Only a couple of months into Sam's first year at Stanford, they were still in contact. He would call the kid every fucking week. They'd talk and Sam would tell him about his classes, about the two jobs he was working off campus and occasionally about some of the other students he'd met. And Dean would offer to swing by, to leave him some cash so he didn’t have to work two jobs, and Sam would protest, insisting that he could make it on his own and he didn't need his big brother bailing him out all the time. Maybe that was why he hadn't called Dean. Maybe that's all it was, just Sam trying to assert his independence, to not always rely on Dean to pick up the pieces.
They never used to talk about Dad, and they never talked about them during those calls, and so Dean had always assumed that that part of their life was over. Perhaps that was the real reason Sam hadn't called him from the hospital. Having Dean there when he went through all that would just underline the squalid, dirty reality of their relationship, and Sam was trying to escape from that claustrophobic dead end. Sam wanted to be normal. He wanted to forget and move on with his life. Dean’s presence would stop him from doing that.
Whatever, it didn't matter now. And in the scheme of things, after the losses they'd endured, what was one miscarriage?
Everything, Dean thought.
Dean jumped when Sam touched his leg. He jerked his gaze down to the place where Sam's big hand was spanning his knee and calf, finger lodged in the crease of his knee. Sam shifted on the bed, bringing one leg up so his knee pressed against Dean's foot. Slowly, he drew his hand up Dean's leg, keeping eye contact the entire time. Under Sam's hand, Dean felt his skin prickle and burn hot. His cock was plumping and his balls felt tight and heavy. He swallowed, a shiver of lust rocking through him as Sam's gaze got heavy and dark. He watched his brother climb onto the bed, knees sinking into the memory foam as he pushed Dean's legs apart with his hands on Dean's thighs.
He should say something. Make a protest, or ask Sam what the hell he was doing, and did he really think that this was the right time for this shit? After all, hadn't falling back into this well-remembered groove gotten them into this fucking mess already? But Sam had that look on his face that Dean hadn’t seen in too long and his own cock was fat and starting to drool pre-come, and it wasn’t like things could get much worse, so yeah… To hell with it, he thought, and he put his hand to the back of his brother's neck, and yanked him into a kiss.
Sam actually groaned as their teeth clashed together. Dean's nose smashed into Sam's cheek and he tilted his head, finding the natural angle and the well-remembered fit. Sam kissed him hard, following up with his hands fisted in the sleeves of Dean's shirt, tugging insistently at it. Dean curled his arm around Sam's back, spanned his sides, and kissed and kissed; the kisses hard and brutal and unforgiving as Sam's knee slid between his thighs and rocked against his dick.
His headphones tumbled off the bed and crashed to the floor. Dean flinched at the noise and tore his mouth away from Sam's. He fisted a handful of Sam's hair and yanked his head away.
"What the fuck we doing?" he panted.
Sam blinked, his gaze hazy and glassy with lust. "The inevitable," he said.
"Dude, what the fuck does that mean?"
Sam laughed shakily and reared back, hand fisted in Dean's shirt. He relaxed his grip and spread his fingers over Dean's chest, applying enough pressure to keep him pinned to the bed, while his legs straddling Dean did the rest. Dean stared up at him. He still felt like he was in shock, his head spinning by this sudden about-turn from Sam. He could hear the tinny white noise of his headphones where they'd fallen off the bed.
"Shut up, Dean. Stop talking."
Dean's mouth fell closed. Sam slid his hand down Dean's chest, over his belly and abs, down to his cock. He cupped it with a thoughtful kind of air and when Dean opened his mouth to protest again, Sam slammed his hand over Dean’s lips and raised his eyebrows.
"I said, no talking."
Dean felt his cock twitch in his pants and saw the smirk curl at the edge of Sam’s mouth. Slowly, Sam removed his hand and sat back on his haunches. He unzipped his fly and Dean noticed with a jump of his pulse that he wasn't wearing underwear. He pulled out his cock and fisted the base, keeping his gaze locked on Dean the whole while.
"I thought," he thumbed the slit, and Dean watched a bead of pre-come gather and roll down Sam's shaft, to be stopped by Sam's finger, "that we might swap things around this time." Sam sucked the finger into his mouth, eyes narrowing as he tasted himself. He slid another finger in alongside it and coated them both liberally with saliva. He pulled them out and smothered the crown of his dick with the sticky, shiny saliva, and then turned his attention back to Dean. "How do you feel about that, Dean?"
Dean wet his lips and swallowed, trying to find his voice again. His gaze was caught by his brother's cock, red and shiny with spit, another bead of pre-come forming at the slit. "Yeah," he said at last, raising his eyes to meet Sam's gaze. "I feel pretty good about that."
"Good." Sam smirked and cupped Dean's cock again. "Then roll over."
Two days after the fucked-up hunt with Max Miller and his family, two weeks after Dean left Cassie behind for the second time in his life, and six months after Jessica's death, they had sex again.
Afterward, as Dean lay there, satiated and sweaty, Sam's back to him and the smell of spunk in the air, he wondered if they'd just made the biggest mistake of their lives. He’d always believed that part of Sam's bid for freedom in leaving for college was not just to escape Dad and the hunting life, but also to escape him and their relationship. Sam wanted normal. He wanted a real, normal future without a father who fought him every step of the way, without ghosts and demons and no fixed abode. Sam wanted a real relationship that wasn't creepy or unhealthy with someone who wasn't fucking related to him. Sam wanted out of all that. Of course he did. Who wouldn't?
"Stop freaking out." Dean jumped as Sam's voice broke the silence.
"I ain't freaking out," he blustered.
Sam sighed wearily and rolled onto his back. "Yeah, you are."
"Shut up," Sam said, and his voice sounded indulgent under the weariness. "If I didn't want it, I wouldn't have done it, Dean. You know that."
Dean worked through what Sam had said, trying to look at it from his brother's point of view. He rolled his head on the pillow until he could see Sam's profile, edged grey in the dark room. In the old days, he would've touched Sam, cupped his face or nuzzled his throat, or put his hand on Sam's chest, just to make some point of contact between them. Now, though. Even after the sex Sam still felt distant from him.
He'd been through so much in the past six months. Not just Jess's death and the destruction of the real life and real future he'd always wanted, but now this crap with the nightmares and visions and freaking telekinesis. Sam was reeling and lost and so he'd fallen back on something that was familiar to him. And worst of all, Dean had let him do it. Dean was glad for it. That moment a couple of hours ago when Sam put his hand on his arm, curled his fingers tight around Dean's bicep and pulled him in, kissing him as hard and as passionately as he always used to, Dean felt like crying with happiness. He was so damn grateful for it. When they pulled apart, he saw the loss and sadness in Sam's eyes and he knew that he shouldn't have given in. But Sam backed him up against the dresser, kissed him again, sliding his hand into Dean's jeans, and Dean closed his eyes and stopped thinking.
He wished he could stop thinking now.
Dean cleared his throat, "So, it's just a coincidence that this happens now? After Max and everything?"
"Dean." Sam sounded even more tired, and Dean felt a pang of remorse. He knew that Sam hadn't been sleeping. One of the reasons he'd insisted on Dean not getting back into his own bed was because he thought he could sleep better with Dean closer, and yet here he was, making Sam think about things he should let damn well alone, for both their sakes. "Please, don't make this something we should feel bad about." The subtext was there: there's already enough shit to feel bad about...
"Sorry," he said at last. "It's just that after all these months. I thought."
"What did you think?" Sam said, and he sounded interested now.
Dean huffed. "I don't know, man. Just that... it's been six freaking months, and it never seemed like you were interested in starting all that shit up again. And I know before, you were a kid and a teenager, and now you're a grown-ass dude, so I thought... I don't know. I thought it was over. Done with."
"It's never gonna be done with," Sam said. His voice was low, sending a thrill through Dean that made his stomach duck and roll. "You and me. There's always gonna be a you and me, Dean. Hey, here." Dean started as he felt Sam move again, rising up on one elbow so he could look down at Dean. He put his hand on Dean's cheek and Dean felt the knots in his belly tighten, Sam's hand feeling so big and gentle against his face. "Look at me, man."
Obediently, Dean raised his gaze to meet Sam's. Sam's eyes were barely visible in the dark room, just the gleam of them and the reflection of the windows in his pupils.
"This was always gonna happen again," Sam said. "I've been thinking about it for months. I just felt that before... with Jess. It was too soon. But you almost died, Dean, and then there was Cassie, and I was happy for you, knowing that you had her while I had Jess. But I was so freaking worried that you might get back with her again and then..." He huffed out a laugh, shaking his head. "God, I was so jealous, thinking I might have to share you with her. I was going to do something then, but you were so affected by it that I felt bad to be flinging myself at you, just after you'd gone through all that shit with your ex again. And then there was Max."
Right, Max. Definitely something Dean didn't want to think about.
"Just... let's enjoy this, hey? You and me again. It'll be good. We gotta have something good, right? Something that’s for us."
Dean could see him biting his lip, his voice fading away into the dark room. "Yeah, okay, Sam," he said at last.
The thing was it was good. For months, it was good. Even with Dad being gone, and the Yellow-Eyed Demon, and knowing what Dad did just before he died. The one thing he could rely on, the one thing he came back to over and over again was Sam. He couldn't do this without Sam and he didn't want to. The day after they ganked the killer clown, they had sex in the back of the ancient station-wagon they’d borrowed from Bobby on a back country road. The car was pulled off the road, mostly on the wet grass and mud, and every so often headlights would hit the back window and the car would rock as a truck or a semi came past.
Sam raised his head from Dean's dick and pushed the hair out of his face, his eyes gleaming as they met Dean's, tears rolling down his cheeks. Dean didn't cry, just rested his hand gently on top of Sam's head and guided him back down again, sighing as he felt his cock bump against the back of Sam's throat. He carded his fingers through Sam's hair and after he came in his brother's mouth and watched Sam spit his come out through the open window, he gathered Sam up and kissed him, over and over again until their lips were sore and their jaws ached.
"It's just us now," Sam murmured, and Dean still didn't say anything, fingers clenched around his brother's jaw and mouth against his temple. Sam was all he had, and that was okay because Sam was all he really needed.
Which was why when Sam got infected with the Croatoan virus, Dean didn't go. Sam was his responsibility, and if Sam was going to die, then Dean would be right there with him. Either he'd save him or he'd follow him. There was no other choice.
And that was why three months later he made the deal.
"I don't want to live in a world that you're not in," he told Sam, and he meant every word.
Of course, Sammy was going to fight it. He expected that, and maybe even in a secret hidden part of his brain, he was counting on it too. Maybe there would be a third way, a way that meant he would survive and Sam wouldn't go evil and they would be together, working the job and saving people and killing monsters and doing what they were raised to do.
But a year later, they were at Bobby's place, trying to find a last minute miracle to rescue him from the hellfire. Dean was having waking nightmares about hellhounds while Bobby drowned his sorrows in liquor, and Sam was upstairs, alone in the room they'd always shared, with his heart snapped in two.
Dean pushed aside the book he'd not been reading and made his way upstairs, needing to be close to his brother. Sam was awake, lying on the bed with dry, red eyes and piles of dusty books around him. His gaze rested on Dean, heavy and aching, and his mouth twisted as he held out his hand.
"Close the door," he said.
Dean pushed the door shut behind him and walked toward Sam, letting Sam gather his hand in his own and tug him onto the bed. He fell heavily on top of Sam and buried his face in his brother's neck, breathing him in.
"This is the moment when I wish I stopped taking birth control," Sam said.
The words buzzed through Dean's head, and he raised his head and blinked at his brother, uncomprehending.
"I could be like a heroine in a book whose lover has died tragically, but she's still got an unborn child, who grows up to be the spitting image of the dead lover."
"I knew you secretly read chick lit," Dean said.
Sam snorted and smiled self-consciously. "I get the point now," he said. He cupped Dean's cheek, sliding his hand around the back of his head and into his hair. "'Cause there'd be something left of you, something more than just the car. Something real and human and something I could... love. Of course the sane part of me knows that it's totally fucking ridiculous, but I don't feel sane right now, and I wouldn't be even telling you this if we weren't... if we weren't, you know, if it wasn't now. But a kid that was half you and half me..." He broke off and laughed hollowly. "Yeah, fucking crazy, right? The poor bastard would be cursed and wanted by every demon out there. He’d be dead before his first birthday most likely."
"Don't say anything, Dean," he cut in, his voice sudden and sharp. He inhaled and leaned in until their foreheads touched.
Dean held his breath and curled his fingers around his brother's biceps, digging in hard enough to leave bruises and hoping that he would. At least then Sam would have a physical memento of him.
"Want to remember you like this and not like..." he sucked in another breath and exhaled it deeply. Then he drew back, blinking at Dean. "I'm gonna save you, okay? It'll be okay, Dean. I'll save you."
"Yeah, man, I know," said Dean and he nodded, forcing out a smile as he stared into Sam's shining, determined eyes. He cupped the back of Sam's neck and squeezed. "So, you coming downstairs? See if Bobby's chased up anything?"
Slowly Sam nodded, sighing as he drew away from Dean. "Yeah, okay. Let's go."
Dean's ass throbbed.
He stood in the shower and closed his eyes, savoring the sensation of the hot water pounding down upon him. His ass throbbed in time to the drumbeat in his head. He clenched and unclenched his fingers and wondered if Sam had wanted to punish him. If Sam had, then Dean had been a willing participant. And as punishments went... well, Dean wasn't complaining too much.
Dean didn't bottom often. It wasn't a preference thing; truthfully Dean liked sex any way he could get it. But most of the sex he'd had over the years was with Sam, and as Sam preferred to bottom, Dean did the obliging good brotherly thing and fucked Sam up the ass, just as he liked it.
Dean shifted to grab the soap, and grimaced. His ass felt squelchy as well as sore. It had been so freaking long since he'd bottomed, he'd forgotten about the embarrassing, uncomfortable and downright spoogey side of it. He'd forgotten how it felt to feel his brother's spunk and spit dribbling out of his asshole. Just spit, 'cause Sam hadn't used lube, and Dean hadn't asked him to.
He slid one finger gingerly between his ass cheeks and winced. He lifted it away and stared at his finger. The water washed away any remaining bodily fluids, but Dean kept staring, thinking vaguely of the pictures that you used to get in high school health classes with the cross-sections of male and female genitalia, inside and out. There was a separate section in the textbook that showed chimera genitalia, along with the few lines explaining chimera reproduction. He’d read up on it after Sam had gotten his diagnosis, furtively sneaking medical textbooks from a town library when he was supposed to be doing research for a job. He could still remember the plain anatomical sentences by heart.
Semen from a sexual chimera is sterile in 99.9% of cases, though there have been rare reports of sexual chimeras impregnating females. Most sexual chimeras will ovulate every 6-8 weeks with shorter fertile periods than females. Once released by the ovaries, eggs are deposited in the rectouterine pouch. When a sexual chimera engages in anal intercourse with a fertile male, sperm will be carried from the anus to the rectouterine pouch by rectouterine transporters. Fertilization takes place within the rectouterine pouch. The fertilized egg will then travel through the fallopian tubes to the uterus where it will implant in the uterine wall.
All of that had happened inside Sam, and not just this one time. But twice now. Twice his sperm had been transported to that special pouch and done the business with Sam's eggs. And now the egg - the fetus - was where it was supposed to be, implanted in Sam's uterus, alive and growing.
Not for much longer, he thought.
Dean started as the bathroom door opened. He stepped out of the spray and peered around the curtain. Sam was standing in the doorway with his arms crossed.
“I’m heating soup. Do you want some?” Sam asked.
“Yeah, okay then. If that’s alright?”
Sam rolled his eyes. “It’s soup, Dean, hardly cordon bleu.”
“Well, yeah, but you don’t cook,” Dean said.
“Heating soup isn’t cooking,” Sam said.
Dean considered it and nodded. Sam was right. “Okay.” He ducked back behind the shower curtain and heard the door slam shut.
Dean padded down to the kitchen in his favorite robe and slippers when he was done. Sam was already sitting at the table with two steaming bowls of soup. He nodded to the one opposite. “Sit down, tuck in.”
To Dean’s surprise, Sam had also rumbled up buttered toast from somewhere, so he dug in with relish. Half way through his bowl, he noticed that Sam had barely touched his. He swallowed a mouthful of toast and nodded at Sam’s bowl. “You aren't eating?”
“Not hungry,” Sam said.
“Sam, c’mon, you gotta eat. Gotta keep your strength up.”
“I’m not doing the trials anymore, Dean, you don’t gotta worry about me.”
“I’m never gonna stop worrying about you.”
“Yeah, I know,” Sam said wearily. He pushed the barely touched bowl of soup aside and got up from the table.
Dean watched him cross to the sink where he filled a glass of water. He turned around, parking his ass against the worktop and made a face at Dean. “Everything I eat comes back up again.”
“Oh,” Dean said. He laid his spoon carefully against the side of bowl and blew out a breath. “Is that ‘cause of…”
"Yes,” Sam said.
Dean nodded to himself. “Right.” He ate a few more mouthfuls of soup, but Sam’s revelation and the reminder it brought had dulled his appetite. What was left of the soup had gone cold anyway. He placed his spoon neatly in the bowl and cleared his throat.
Sam’s head snapped his way, his gaze narrowing a little.
“So, uh, before…” Dean raised his eyebrows, waggled them, tried and failed to keep the smirk from crawling across his face. “That was hot. We should do it that way more often.”
“You’d be okay with that?” Sam said dubiously.
“’Course, man. You know me, I like it anyway I can get it.” He hesitated before adding, “Especially with you.” He could feel his cheeks redden and felt a momentary spark of embarrassment. But it was the truth, and if Sam was as smart about that shit as he was about everything else, then he knew it already.
“Dean,” Sam sighed, and uh-oh, that wasn’t a good sign.
“I don’t want you to get the wrong impression.”
“What wrong impression?”
Sam crossed his arms and shrugged his enormous shoulders up and down. “You know. That things between us – they’re all fine and fixed. ‘Cause they’re not. And the sex… I wanted it, you wanted it, it was great…” here, Dean smirked, and Sam huffed out a breath, rolling his eyes, “but it’s not everything. It hasn’t suddenly made everything good between us.”
“Dude, I know that,” Dean protested. “Give me some fucking credit. But you came after me, remember? You started it, Sam.”
Sam pursed his lips. “I don’t think that argument works when you get past ten.”
Dean pushed his chair back, the legs screaming on the tile floor. He picked up his bowl and Sam’s barely touched one and carried them to the sink, elbowing Sam out the way. Sam shifted reluctantly, turning to rest his hip against the side as Dean filled the sink with hot water. Dean washed both bowls and spoons in silence, stacking them neatly on the draining board. He still got a kick out of doing this sort of humdrum shit in their own place, he couldn’t help it. It would probably get old soon, but they’d been here for over a year and he still enjoyed it. It was nice to have their own kitchen, to keep it nice and clean and sparkling, to be able to cook and serve real food.
“I can make you a sandwich,” he suggested.
He glanced at his brother’s profile, watching Sam’s mouth tug down at the corners as he made a face.
“Will that make you barf too?”
“Probably. But hey, consider the upside, I won’t have this problem in a couple of days,” Sam said.
Dean paused, hands wrist deep in the hot soapy water. He clenched and unclenched his fingers and turned his head to look at his brother. Slowly, as if feeling Dean’s gaze on him, Sam turned his head to look back at him. They stared at each other for what felt like a long time.
“There’s always time to change your mind,” Dean said quietly.
Sam shook his head. “No.”
Dean sighed and pulled his hands out of the water. He shook off the suds and reached for the cloth. He put his hand on Sam’s arm, expecting to feel his brother flinch under the contact, but Sam just stilled and glanced at him from under his eyelashes.
“Just know that we’re in this together, okay?”
Dean swallowed and persisted, “Okay, man? Sam?”
He peered up into his brother’s face, to his gloomy brow and the hair falling into his eyes. “We’ve been through worse than this. We’ll get through it and we’ll be okay.” He licked his lips, feeling his heart thump in his chest and aware of the churning in his belly that had never really dissipated. “Sam?”
“Yeah, okay,” Sam said at last.
Dean breathed out and patted his brother’s arm a couple of times before reluctantly withdrawing his hand. “Okay. I’m gonna watch TV. You should come join me.”
“Maybe later,” Sam said.
Dean nodded, puffing out his cheeks as he turned to go and trying not to take Sam’s answer as a rejection.